What Should You Do When Your Passport is Lost or Stolen Overseas?

passport lost overseas

We’ve all read those news articles about how the Singapore passport is the world’s most powerful in terms of the number of countries it lets us get into visa-free.

But what happens if you lose that little red book? Are you doomed?

Here’s what you should do if you lose your passport overseas.

Contact the Embassy or High Commission

Before you leave Singapore, always check where the nearest Singapore Embassy or High Commission is at your destination, and take note of their opening hours.

The Embassy or High Commission should be your first port of call if you lose your passport. They are the only ones who can issue a Document of Identity that will enable you leave the country and re-enter Singapore.

If they are closed when you discover the loss of your passport, email them immediately and follow up as soon as possible with a call to make an appointment with an officer. Be prepared to travel if you are not in the capital, where most embassies are located.

You will be asked to bring along several documents to your appointment including your IC, two or three passport photos, police report and flight itinerary.

Do your best to furnish all the required documents, as without them the Embassy will not be able to furnish you with the Document of Identity. In true Singapore-style efficiency, it generally takes between one and a few hours to obtain your Document of Identity.

Do note, however, that in certain destinations you may have to jump through other hoops in order to return to Singapore.

For instance, if you are in China, you will also need to visit a local Entry-Exit Administration Bureau to obtain an Exit Permit, otherwise you will not be allowed to leave China. Your Embassy/High Commission will be able to advise you.

Upon your return to Singapore, you can reapply for a new passport at ICA. This should cost $70 if you apply online.


Lodge a police report

Whether you’ve been the victim of theft or have simply misplaced your passport, you’ll probably have to present the Embassy/High Commission and your insurer with proof that you lost it.

So head immediately to the nearest police station to lodge a police report.

In non-English speaking countries, try to obtain a written translation of what you what to say beforehand (ask the staff at your hotel or your Airbnb host for help) or, better yet, get a bilingual local to accompany you to the police station.

In some countries, the police will be very reluctant to issue a report because it means more work for them. If you are not able to persuade them to do so, at least ask for some sort of receipt or acknowledgement slip that proves you were there.


Contact your travel insurer

If your travel insurance policy offers protection for loss of passport or other belongings, you should be able to make a claim.

Contact your insurer as soon as possible to inquire about the documents you must submit to make a claim.

Many insurers maintain a 24-hour hotline at which you can obtain assistance. They can help you find the nearest embassy and offer assistance in the event of lost passports, so make full use of it.

Depending on your plan, you might be able to recoup the costs incurred while dealing with your lost passport. This might include travel expenses and hotel accommodation incurred while trying to get to the embassy, the cost of a new ticket if you are forced to miss a flight, as well as the cost of replacing your passport.

That’s why you should always compare travel insurance plans and choose one with care. Use MoneySmart’s Travel Insurance wizard to do so for free.

Have you ever lost your passport overseas? Share your experiences in the comments.